Monday, July 19, 2010

Stereotypes confirmed:

-Nearly every food establishment I passed by on my way back from the market (itself stereotype-confirming by its very existence) is either already closed for a long vacation or about to be. (Add to the "Frenchwomen don't get fat" files: one month per year of semi-starvation can't hurt.)

-A man sits enjoying a beer and cigarette at an outdoor café. My first thought is that it's so early I have yet to have my first coffee of the day. The second is that he's sitting there with his baby in a stroller. Not Park Slope, this.

-Passed a newsstand where there was a magazine with Napoleon III on the cover. The magazine is entirely devoted to the Second Empire. As in, this is something people who aren't necessarily studying the topic read about for enjoyment. I do notice on the Metro that just about everyone - punks included - is reading Literature. At first I thought this was just that I was deceived by the aesthetics of book covers here, but glancing at the titles, there really does seem to be less interest in Heidi Montag's attempts to get a H-is-for-Heidi-cup chest, or in some French equivalent thereof.

-The bureaucratic procedures needed for me to look at a couple library books ought to be providing a large family from some politically-controversial country with papers to live here.

-It is always, always, always cheaper to get wine, whatever the alternatives.

Stereotypes challenged:

-I used the bathroom in a French home without causing controversy or offending my friend whose home it is.

- A different Real Life French Person friend came by wearing flip-flops and shorts. These are supposed to be the marks of the American male, but it turns out, contrary to stereotype, that French men are allowed to acknowledge summer weather and leave home in something other than evening-wear or skintight jeans. (French women, so long as they're thin and burqa-less, can pretty much wear whatever.)

-But wait! Ever since the article about how French women eat nothing, ever, I've seen many obese locals, along with the usual hordes of skinny-rich American girls on study abroad. I also saw - and this I've never seen in NY - a young man get up to give his seat to a woman simply because she was so obese that she looked like she needed to sit down. Clearly not pregnant (putting the 'should I get up but what if she's just fat?' dilemma into perspective), not elderly, not (otherwise) disabled. Was this woman, in Frahnce, offended? No! She happily took the seat and looked relieved.

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